What can a shipwreck, a tough pirate, and a jolly pirate do for your STEM class? Good question and I am going to show you exactly what these sweet little picture books can do to get your class going with sailboats! Ships ahoy!
First Graders Love Boats
Time to Set Sail!
Now comes the part that will make you nuts unless you have a sink in your classroom. I don’t have one in the smaller lab so I had to tote water into the room with a big watering can. I poured it into a long flat plastic bin to make our sailing spot.
On to the Books!
The Wreck of the Zephyr by Chris Van Allsburg
An amazing little book and if you know this author you can also expect something a little strange to happen! This is the story told by a villager who explains how a boat ended up high above the waterline. The tale he tells is about a young boy that sails away in his boat called Zephyr and crashes ashore on an unknown island. Soon after the boy sees boats that sail in the air. He learns how to sail like this himself and sails back home to show his village what a great sailor he is. However, he crashes onto his own land and there the boat lies to this day. It turns out that the man telling the story is actually the young boy that sailed the boat through the air! I love this book, especially because in the end the kids have to infer that the man is the boy sailor.
Tough Boris by Mem Fox
This is one of my favorite picture books of all time! It is a book of few words and a repetitive use of those words, but it is powerful. The book begins with a young boy observing a pirate crew burying a treasure.
“They were scruffy, All pirates are scruffy.”
The story continues with the boy sneaking aboard the ship where he discovers the captain has a violin and a parrot. The boy swipes the violin and plays for the crew. And the parrot dies. This is the line that gets me every time,
“He cried. All pirates cry.”
The parrot is buried in the violin case. Oh, my goodness. Beautiful illustrations are what make this book a winner. Whenever I read this book to kids I show the photos very slowly because so much is going on in the drawings that are not said in the words. Basically, the children tell the story from looking at the photos. Inference! This is a great book to use with building boats and we have also used it for building a treasure box.
Roger the Jolly Pirate by Brett Helquist
I love reading this one to kids because the words are just delightful. I used it with third graders as part of writing lessons, but with the young engineers, we read it to get ready to build a boat!